Just to be sure, workers building the new span over the Mississippi River might want to prepare two sets of signs: one naming it the Stan Musial Memorial Bridge, and one designating it the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
A resolution naming it the Veterans Memorial Bridge has cleared an Illinois House committee and is awaiting a vote on the House floor.
The Illinois resolution, however, is competing against a congressional effort to name the bridge after Musial. And state legislators in Missouri also are pursuing a Musial moniker for the bridge, which is scheduled to open next year.
Depending on who you ask, the authority to name the bridge rests either with the feds or with the two states.
Most current and former state lawmakers from the metro-east have favored a veterans name, dating back to 2010. The current resolution, HJR0024, received unanimous approval on Tuesday from a House Transportation committee and is now awaiting a vote on the House floor.
The chief sponsor of the Illinois resolution, naming the bridge the Veterans Memorial Bridge, is Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville. Co-sponsors are Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton; Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton; and Rep. Eddie Lee Jackson, D-East St. Louis.
Hoffman, who played college baseball, said he's always been a fan of Musial, "but the veterans organizations throughout our area have been contacting me for a number of years. I do believe we should pay tribute to Stan Musial, but the bridge should be named after veterans who've served our country. That's the wish of the majority of organizations that have contacted my office."
Hoffman on Thursday said his belief is that Missouri and Illinois together hold the naming rights. Hoffman said he's basing his belief on past practices as well as an agreement previously reached regarding construction of the bridge.
As for the federal effort to name the bridge after Musial, Hoffman said: "I think that their actions are largely ceremonial. If I'm wrong, I'll stand corrected, but I'm pretty sure I'm right."
In January, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, filed a bill in the U.S. Senate to name the bridge after Musial. It was co-sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Chicago; and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield.
Christina Mulka, a spokeswoman for Durbin, said Thursday that Congress and the President hold the naming authority, not the states.
"When it comes to federal aid-eligible highways and bridges, Congress has the final say," Mulka said. "So if the U.S. House and Senate pass a naming bill and it is signed into law by the President, it would take precedence over the state process."
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the Musial bill in March. Matching legislation is now pending in the U.S. House, sponsored by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.
Shimkus' spokesman, Steve Tomaszewski, said Thursday that Shimkus "continues to support the naming of the new bridge in honor of Stan Musial, who lived his life as an exemplary human being, without scandal and as someone to admire and emulate."
Musial, a seven-time National League batting champion, died Jan. 19 and is recognized as the greatest St. Louis Cardinals player ever. Durbin has noted that Musial also was a Navy veteran and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Even if Hoffman is correct -- that Missouri and Illinois have the naming authority -- he'll have a difficult time getting Missouri state legislators to go along with the veterans name. In the days and weeks following Musial's death, several Missouri state lawmakers began speaking publicly in support of a Musial name for the span.
And the Missouri House earlier this month voted 147-0 in favor of a measure naming the bridge after Musial. The vote sent the bill to the Missouri Senate, which endorsed a similar measure earlier this year.
Hoffman said he'd be open to naming an approach to the bridge in honor of Musial. Illinois is doing something similar -- naming the Interstate 70 approach to the bridge on the Illinois side after former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville. Hoffman said he's hopeful that Illinois state lawmakers "can talk to the folks in Missouri and come to some kind of agreement."
The St. Clair County Board also has weighed in on the issue. The board voted unanimously in February to name the bridge after veterans. But the County Board's action is simply a recommendation.
Funding for the $667 million project comes from federal and state pocketbooks. Illinois funded about half the construction costs with $313 million. The federal government contributed $239 million and Missouri contributed $115 million.
Illinois contributed more funding to the project because most of the construction work to connect the bridge with existing roadways was within the state.
Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at email@example.com.